Many of the technology sites that I frequent are loaded with articles and opinions about Google’s foray into the OS market. I have to say, when I first heard about Chrome OS I was pretty excited to see what it had to offer. I have been using various Google products (Picasa, Gmail, Docs, Wave, etc.) for some time and I have generally been very pleased with the experience. I have also taken to using the Chrome browser on my netbook because the light footprint is more conducive to the limited system resources of the minuscule computer.
That said, the more I read about Chrome, the less excited I am about it. Chrome, from what I understand, is going to be total cloud computing (with offline access provided by something like Gears). This is all well and good, but I am not ready to turn over all my data to the cloud (and judging from comments on articles, a good number of other people aren’t either). I know that many people already commit vast amounts of data to the cloud, but most of us still maintain copies of that data on local drives. I’m a backup fiend and I feel much more secure knowing that I have my data stored in more than one location and on more than one drive. Google Docs allows me to easily back up the documents I choose, but there are some things I am not comfortable sticking on Docs. For example, I don’t upload my banking documents to Google Docs. I don’t like the idea of anyone with an internet connection being able to hack into my Docs account and access my bank statements. At least on a personal computer I know that I have important documents buried under layers of security and that is something the cloud cannot provide.
I think cloud computing needs to be balanced with traditional storage options. What I have read about Chrome OS suggests that the majority of, if not all, data will be stored in the cloud. I don’t like that. I don’t like my computer being dependent on an internet connection in order to be functional. Jolicloud provides a great alternative. Jolicloud is an OS built around the look of Ubuntu Netbook Remix and Mozilla Prism (for the web apps) that strives to bring ease of use, cloud computing, and local accessibility to a netbook centric OS. I have been running an alpha version for awhile and I am quite impressed. It makes Linux accessible to the every day user by using a sort of app store that makes the installations of applications (local and cloud) a piece of cake. One of the reasons I have avoided Linux was that I absolutely hate the command line and having to install programs from it (I know, I’m not a true power user). Jolicloud does away with much of that and makes installing a program as easy as the click of a mouse.
As to the cloud part of Jolicloud, many programs that are internet based are optimized to take up all the screen real estate of a netbook thanks to Mozilla Prism running them instead of a traditional browser. For example, if I click on the Facebook icon, it launches Facebook but I don’t have to deal with the browser taking up parts of the screen. It’s an awesome idea and makes operating on a small netbook a more pleasing experience. You can keep a number of apps open and jump between them without tying up valuable screen real estate.
The biggest plus about Jolicloud is that it does not limit you to cloud computing. I can still store and access documents locally through OpenOffice or if I have an internet connection I can use the cloud if I choose to. The point is, Jolicloud gives you more options than it appears the Chrome OS will give you.
Jolicloud is about to move from alpha to beta and I look forward to seeing where the OS is headed. So far, I like what I have seen from Jolicloud better than Chrome OS. I encourage you to check out the Jolicloud website and give the OS a spin. I am dual booting on my Samsung NC10 with no problems and find myself using Jolicloud over XP more and more.